Thursday, April 25, 2013

Game. Over.

"I'm known for my ballads, so I'm gonna take it up a couple notches."

One of the Day 26 dudes told me this as I was driving home from work last night, right before he started singing "Don't Fight the Feeling" to me. Yup. Awkward turtle moment.

But the premise makes total sense. I'm good at ballads, so I'm just going to get better at singing ballads. If I'm already considered one of the best at doing what I get paid to do, why not dominate that field? I appreciate that. Embrace the Tim Duncan bank shot of R&B.

Know your role. I'm sure Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson are nice young ladies, but they're no Beyonce. We appreciate Keyshia for singing flat in that song with Tyrese, but we really appreciate Beyonce twirking it something fierce and taking out the electricity on Super Bowl Sunday. But Mrs. Carter can't crank out mega hits every summer anymore - she's got 10 weeks of breastfeeding to do! - so we need your half-decent albums and marriage to that guy with the worst nickname in sports (Daniel "Boobie" Gibson) to entertain us.

Know your identity and stick to your guns. I'll cover the serious side of personal identity theft on my other blog perch sometime soon, but the premise holds water in the entertainment world. As my aunt tells her kids when they act up...stay in your lane. Don't start what you can't finish.

Why are people so eager to destroy what works? How do good shows become stinkers? Well, producers want to rack up credits, executives want to keep making bank, and writers want to lay off the chuck steak. Big studio paychecks can make any showrunner lazy. But not all change is good change.
Just look at The Game. This show was spun from a sultry Girlfriends episode (aren't they all sultry?), as a young Melanie Barrett followed her athletic boyfriend to sunny California against her older cousin's wishes. Six seasons later, dear Melanie is finishing her studies at fictional Johns Hopkins, leaving us with a cast of retreads and Boss Lady.

Unfortunately, we have reached the denouement.
Just don't tell BET. They've gotten more mileage out of that Season Four 7.7 Nielsen rating than you think. I sat in a media meeting with a BET executive who waved that high cable rating around like a church fan. In a television market more highly saturated than Duncan Hines, networks need shows that feign respectability. Even though The Game was only a 7 million person march on its BET premiere episode, that number will feed mouths for years.

No need to tell them that the show is a far cry from its UPN roots.

Yes, I watched the premiere. My friend Bryant almost trolled me into punching out a 2,000 word joke fest like I did in 2011, but I couldn't bring myself to hit "Publish." As I reread my final draft, I realized that my exercise in fun and games quickly turned into low-hanging fruit jabs. There's a difference between poking fun at a friend's botched wedding during a 4th of July BBQ and listening to Dane Cook make jokes about it. BET is family, after all.

When a car careens off the road, it's not polite to point and laugh. But at some point - once everybody's OK - the vehicle's owner must determine manufacturer error and operator negligence, ensuring that the any errors that led to the initial car wreck cease to exist moving forward.

The Game's fatal flaw? Trying to change lanes on a one-lane street. Alas.
At least we'll always have THEM on Netflix.

- M.B., II

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Did We Ever Doubt Ray Felton?

There are a handful of agreed-upon superstars in today’s NBA. In ESPN’s somewhat scientific poll, Lebron, Durant, Dwight, CP3, D-Rose, Kobe, Kevin Love, D-Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams reflect a preseason Top-10, the chosen few players expected to be great. Essays will be written to laud or deride these men, commercial time is a given, and Christmas basketball will rearrange their holiday plans. And the other 300+ players in the NBA are mere planets in this Q-rating based solar system.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NYK: Dangerously in Love

(Author's Note: I initially wrote this about a month ago as a sample for a content farm. Hopefully, they'll keep taking my stuff. I'll let you know how it goes!

But for now, enjoy this. This is pure id, the praise from a maniacal Knicks fan for his team.)

I love the New York Knicks. But I am in love with this Knicks squad. 

This year, I’ve decided to jump in head first. Maybe a nice swan dive into maniacal praise will erase the pain of losing LINSANITY to the guys who beat Ewing and the boys in ‘94. I mean, look at Ray Felton! He’s lost almost all of the baby fat! Knicks rule!

Cautious optimism is for the birds.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Black Tennis: Ashe's Living Legacy

In spite of the obstacles, I decided to proeed with the book because I became obsessed with so many unanswered questions. How did black America manage to create such a favorable environment for its athletes? Why did so many blacks excel so early on with so little training, poor facilities and mediocre coaching? Why did the civil rights organizations of the time complain so little about the discrimination against black athletes? And why were white athletes so afraid of competing on an equal basis with blacks? I just had to have my own answers to these and other puzzling sets of facts.
- Arthur Ashe, VIEWS OF SPORT: Taking The Hard Road with Black Athletes (1988)
He was a union president, a college professor, an author, a father, a Grand Slam winner, and an AIDS victim. However, there is one word that can best describe the late Arthur Ashe.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Arrested Development

Two years ago, following a personal choice to face the nation and answer the poignant question about his future, Lebron James wanted to know what we thought. He came to us without prosthetics, puppets, or Pussycat Dolls. He spoke through a viral video, succinctly and deftly, with a plea to his followers.

Should I be who you want me to be?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The System Works

I was caught watching USA Basketball last week. Women's basketball.

Well, not exactly. My job is to make DVD copies of certain TV broadcasts. These are used for a variety of things; scrapbooks, banquets, PowerPoints, broadcast training. I am the "reproduction of any part without the express written consent of the NBA is prohibited" guy. A pending request was in for the women's basketball gold game, and I was in the midst of filling the order. And I was entertained.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beauty In Details

There are many reasons I love basketball, but here's one:
The game was designed with beauty in mind.

The story of basketball goes like this: Dr. James Naismith was obsessed with physical fitness and wanted his students to exercise during the winter. Dr. J had a few soccer balls lying around unused (too cold outside to play). Dr. J hung a peach basket on his gym wall, gave his students a soccer ball, and told them to run. And the beat goes on.

I, along with 99% of you, discovered basketball via jams and Jam. My chronological basketball memory starts with an impressive human being denied multiple times by the world's most incredible athlete. If Dr. Naismith's game began as pastel, ours was augmented by watercolor.

The mistake, of course, is to define basketball solely in pragmatics. There is more to the game than acrobatics and athletics, just like a painting is more than just wall art for a den. As Confucius once said, everything has its beauty...but not everyone sees it. But if the game is beautiful and there's beauty in its can we excavate this inner beauty?

In other words, how can I convince my girlfriend that she'd like the sport? (Kidding.)

(Aside: Basketball is the easiest sport for anyone, including the fairer sex, to appreciate. Football is rigidly constructed, a 3-hr baseball game has about 15 total minutes of movement, and hockey is violent in a way that disrupts common sensibilities. Try hoops first. You're welcome.)

The answer, of course, is to take your time. Watch. Pay attention. Notice how much attention one player gets over another. Notice those adjectives in action: laughter, dispair, hubris, gloom. Ignore the stat graphics.

Also, I don't suggest using March Madness as your theoretical framework. Learning hoops via March Madness is like learning how to roll out of a moving car on a freeway. You will learn, but you'll probably die first. You'd be better off watching your cousin play in the park.

Before football takes over in four months (or earlier, if your fingers type, watch some hoops. I'd suggest the NBA. Why? Because of something Edgar Allen Poe would say:

Beauty, of any kind, in its supreme development, excites the soul to tears.

- M.B., II